Friday, April 28, 2006

Don't worry, I am a doctor

I am reading the Nintendo DS release calendar and wishing I could give Trauma Center a go.

Although some reviews suggest a game strongly based on its storyline, the potential of Trauma Center is still very appealing to me. I would enjoy something more sim-like, sandbox, better. But that's all speculation, since haven't played the game.

Trauma Center is the second game being released this week that takes on a serious profession, along with Phoenix Wright. It makes you wonder if you should have been a lawyer or doctor instead of trying such strange, unstable career.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wii are the Revolution

(via gameology) The Nintendo console formerly known as Revolution was renamed... Wii. At first I thought it was a bad move... Revolution is cathcy... but then I realized, based also on Nintendo's teaser, that Wii could serve better the family-oriented, "everyone" purposes of the company. Plus, dual screens and remote-control-joysticks also sounded funny at first. Gamespot has some news on the subject.

And since we are still talking about Nintendo, why not comment our Mario Kart DS Power-Up issue? Chris Bateman has made a good point.

Triple Red Shell, please?

I am (still) playing Mario Kart DS.

I don't usually like aleatory events to play important roles in the outcome of skill-based games. Lots of players don't. Especially if those events ruin the players' performance. In fact, some would say that would be a case of flawed game design.

So how can I be so tolerant with MK`s power-up scheme? Sure, I do complain when I spot the blue flying shell that will make me go from first to fifth place on the final lap. Or when I'm in second place, get the last power-up in the last curve and it turns out to be one of those fake boxes.

Still, this intromision from luck feels natural to me. One of the possible reasons is universe the game is set on. Magical things can happen in Nintendoland. But I guess there is something more. Do I like playing with fate? Is it because I can easily restart the Grand Prix? And because it takes only a few minutes, anyway?

Everytime I miss a box I feel like my chances of winning were considerably reduced. Do they make me dependable on power-ups? So I can't blame others from using them and claiming the game is unfair? Is my positive thinking, the good vibes I send everytime I wait to see what I've got, part of the fun I'm having with the game? In any case, I don't think it's flawed game design at all - and I think it's one of the most interesting things of the game.

Is the "power-up surprise" significant part of the emotional core of Mario Kart DS? For me, it is. Taking away the control from the player is a powerful way of generating emotional response - If you know how to make it feel right.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Guitar Hero transformed into real instrument

This is quite old, but still worth mentioning: Kotaku has a post (containing a video from YouTube) on how Guitar Hero is being used as a REAL instrument.

The official website seems to be down.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Electroplankton in Europe

The good/bad side of Google Calendar is subscribing to other calendars, such as Nintendo DS games releases (Europe), and be aware of things you would love to get if you were there / had the money.

Electroplankton is being released in Europe today. I know: the game is not exactly new, and everyone over there got their imports. Still...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What's your job title?

Is Game Designer still a good term to describe the profession it designates? Chris Bateman 's website has a discussion on alternative titles (Play Engineer being his first suggestion). It's interesting to note that the emergent phenomena (?) of Toyplay (as opposed to Gameplay) is one of the elements being discussed.

Imports and Taxes

According to this report from Abragames (Brazilian Association of Game Developers), these are the numbers for import taxes over game related products in Brazil:

Item - Tax (in %)
Console Hardware - 80%
Handheld Hardware - 60%
CD-ROM - 33%
Cartridges - 50%

This is just too high, and certainly helps to bring the piracy rates up to ludicrous 89% (PC Market) or 97% (PS2, XboX).

Although some Brazilian developers do a very good job selling their games abroad (in this case, EUA, Europe and Asia), the industry could benefit as whole from a reasonable internal market. I do realize that the country has problems much more serious than this one, but a market where a Nintendo DS costs something between U$ 312 and U$ 426 is not particularly welcoming players and local developers.

I don't usually post notes on market issues, but this is a point that particularly bothers me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ben Cousins´ Game Atoms

Thanks to Chris Bateman, here is the link to Ben Cousins´ website, where you can read his articles (some of them written for Develop Magazine) and download presentation slides on game design, atoms, measurement and other subjects. Apparently, the legacy of atomism is stronger in game design than I first thought...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ludemes - more atomism in game design

In A Theory of Fun, Raph Koster presents the term Ludemes: "the atoms of games, so to speak (...) Game designer Ben Cousins call these 'ludemes', the basic units of gameplay". There you go - another atomist take on game design. I still couldn't find Cousin's original material (if there is any, that is), but found a very interesting presentation from 2005 by Koster: A Grammar of Gameplay - Game Atoms: Can Games be Diagrammed?

To see more atomist approaches on game design, read this and this previous posts.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Triangulations (Juul x Salen / Zimmernan)

Just a thought on how the works of Salen and Zimmerman and Juul might relate to each other (you might need to access the website to see the picture):

The sense of play is internally experienced by the player, The rules are the most defining elements of the game, and culture is not only a subset of the world, but often how we represent and perceive it. Does that make any sense to you? Discuss.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Space Invader

Taking part in the 2nd Annual Univ. of Florida Game Studies Conference, Video Games and the Alien / Other was, for me, a very positive experience. I must say, that's thanks to the organizers of the event - the University of Florida Game Studies Group, and the other participants, who I congratulate for their presentations. Plus, given the conference overall subject, it was quite nice to be a legitimate alien, having my image beamed from another hemisphere. :)

Apparently there are plans about online proceedings, so I will let you know when it's done.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Chris Crawford beyond Interactive Storytelling

Just a thought loosely related to this discussion: It's interesting to note that Chris Crawford, apart from Interactive Storytelling, was since early times an advocate for Serious Games and games about interpersonal relationships - genres receiving increasing attention nowadays. It would be fair to say that games like Balance of Power, and Gossip were, in a way, ideological predecessors of games such as, for instance, A Force More Powerful and SissyFight 2000.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

2nd Annual Univ. of Florida Game Studies Conference

It's entitled:
Video Games and the Alien / Other
It will be held at:
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, United States
April 7 - 8, 2006

I will be presenting (via video) my paper entitled Playing With the Other: Alterity In The Work of Peter Molyneux. I will try to post the article somewhere, after the conference (maybe next week).

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Joy of Painting in Video Games

Another creativity-based (non)game might arrive soon for the DS, Revolution and even PCs.

IGN has a story on how AGFRAG Entertainment Group is planning to release a game inspired by the TV show The Joy of Painting, which was presented by Bob Ross.

(via Academic Gamers)

Monday, April 03, 2006 - the new website for the game studies community is the new website for the game studies community, brought to you by the same people behind

It includes all articles previously published at Academic Gamers, such as my review on Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. I am honoured to be listed as a contributor, and I wish Gameology becomes an even greater website than Academic Gamers already was.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

1 year of

When I first started this website, it was a log for my MA project, and a way of keeping track of things I found interesting. After the conclusion of my project, I kept the website for those same purposes. I also wanted to promote my own production of both games and related theory, although I would like to - and often feel like I should - have more to offer by now.

I am glad to see that, during this relatively short period, non-games (and I still don't know if that's a proper term) such as Nintendogs, Electroplankton and others have become popular products. On a more theoretical side, we also have much more material on the subject. Two examples are Chris Bateman and Richard Boons' 21s century game design (where the term 'toyplay' is presented) and Jesper Juul's lecture at gdc, A New kind of Game.

Of course, with such good works around (both in games and theory), I frequently wonder what can I add to the discussion. So far, I have presented nothing but my MA project and some spare (some good, some bad, some irrelevant) thoughts. I hope to contribute more in the next future, practically, theoretically or both.

Throughout this year, I have lived in five different addresses, four different cities, two different continents. I've met many interesting people, some of them through this website (i.e. all my six readers :)). I've also had several different jobs, plans and points of view on the same subject. One year ago, those who accessed would read a welcome message. It finished like that: "I am still not sure how the website will evolve and how often it will be updated, but everyone is certainly welcome to keep coming back." Today, the message is basically the same. Enjoy!
Copyright, Chico Queiroz